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martin mallia
New member
Username: Martboy

Post Number: 6
Registered: 7-2009
Posted on Thursday, November 05, 2009 - 10:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


I am in Mendoza from the 8th - 15th December, and am thinking of spending a few days in Santiago. I will be leaving Mendoza on the morning of the 12th, and coming back on the morning of the 15th. I do not want to fly to Santiago as it is very expensive to do this, and think a road trip in a hire car would be great fun, especially through the Andes.

I have read that renting a car in Mendoza is quite simple, however it becomes more complicated taking it abroad and through customs. Can anybody recommend a company that can arrange car hire for 3 days, to pick up at Mendoza Airport which will inclue all paperwork to cross into Chile, and drop the car back at Mendoza airport. If anybody has any experience of doing this your views and advice would be hugely appreicated. Information like how long it will take, quality of roads, ease of journey, what customs are like etc would be very useful.

Also, I know that the bus service is very cheap and only takes around 7 hours. Would the car journey shave much time off this as in the UK you can do the same distance in about 3 hours in a car. We do not have a huge amount of time so would like to do it int he most efficient way possible.

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Advanced Member
Username: Welcometomendoza

Post Number: 469
Registered: 7-2007

Posted on Friday, November 06, 2009 - 6:19 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Martin,

Actually the bus takes about 7 to 9 hours depending on road situations, immigrations, customs, and the driver

By car it takes about 5-1/2 to 7 hours depending on the same factors.

Customs/Immigration is the biggest flex factor.

If you go by car you have that great benefit at stopping just wherever you want to do and see stuff along the way.

On the Argentine side it is 2 lane winding highway (recently re-paved) but if you get stuck behind a long line of slow cars/trucks, and can't pass easily, you will get to know the area better:-)

Only some rental companies in Mendoza have some of their cars legally insured, etc to cross over into Chile, at any given time. So it all dpends on availability. Check em all out.

Good luck and enjoy!
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New member
Username: Bbr

Post Number: 23
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Saturday, November 07, 2009 - 5:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Martin

I recently travelled from Mendoza to Santiago and I fully agree with WT Mendoza's comments. Although Immigration / Customs was improved - you now have Argentinean and Chilean Immigration / Custom in one building after the tunnel which allows you in "five" steps to get around. If you have a rental car, ensure that you have at least 4 copies of the relevant "transit papers" with you - I had to step outside and to use the nearby "locultorio" to produce these 4 copies ... (which took around 10 - 15 min ...).

We started in Mendoza and went north on the Ruta 52 to Villavicencio and from there on the gravel road ("ripio") to Uspallata and continued on the Ruta 7 to Chile. Using the gravel road needs some experience and I would suggest a smaller 4WD vehicle. The views you get on this way is fantastic and we saw also lots of guanacos. Driving up the caracoles is just a dream (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/21016540 or http://www.eldia.com.ar/edis/20090524/fotos_g/ttce n.jpg).

Unfortunately the road over the pass was still closed so we drove through the tunnel. If you have the opportunity take the road over the pass and see the Cristo Redentor !!

On the way to the border there are several places you should stop:
- Puente del Inca
- Aconcagua View
- Las Cuevas

Therefore, I would plan a full day for the trip and enjoy this fantastic trip.

regards Bruno

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